Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer Break

Image by Inslee Haynes, via Pinterest
I woke up today and realized that we are already halfway through June! I have a lot on my summer to-do list, and if I'm going to accomplish it all then I need to get going! It's time for a short blogging break, but I'll be back in July. Until then, get off your computer and go soak up the sun! See you out there...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Wedding Shoes

I picked up my wedding dress this weekend and it's making it all feel very real! I can't wait to wear it! Alterations are the next step, but I still need to pick out the perfect pair of wedding-day shoes. Here are some styles that I've been perusing:


Wedding Shoes



Jimmy Choo high heels stiletto / Manolo blahnik shoes/ Kate Spade leather sole shoes / Manolo Blahnik leather sole shoes / Charles by Charles David high heels stiletto / Jimmy Choo nude pumps

A wedge might be the most comfortable for the outdoor ceremony, but I love the look of those sheer nude lace pumps! Decisions, decisions...

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday Menu: Mason Jar Salads

Guacamole Greens from sweetgreen (Image from sweetgreen website)
I am a self-admitted salad hater. I know that salads can be a healthy lunch option, but it's just not the option I'd choose when given a full menu of both hot and cold meals to pick from. That being said, I LOVE the salad concoctions at sweetgreen in Boston. Maybe it's the fact that they're packed with tons of non-green items, or maybe they just have the perfect dressing-to-stuff ratio. I can't get enough!

Since sweetgreen hasn't made its way south, I've been attempting to recreate some of my favorites. I like packing mason jar salads for lunch since it's an easy meal to prep ahead and it's totally tote-able. This week, we're having "Guacamole Greens".  On the sweetgreen menu, it's described as: organic mesclun, red onion, tortilla chips, avocado, roasted chicken, fresh lime squeeze, and cilantro jalepeno vinaigrette.  Mine is a variation on this concept, and it's VERY delicious!

What You'll Need:
1 Jalapeño, seeded and diced
Juice of 2-3 Limes
1Tbsp honey
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 cups Mixed Greens
1/2 Red onion, diced
1 Orange bell pepper, diced (optional)
1 1/2 cups Grape tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, pitted and diced
2 cups roasted chicken, shredded
Tortilla chips (optional)

Directions:
  1. Prepare the dressing by combining the jalapeño, lime juice, honey, cilantro, and olive oil in a food processor. Process until combined. 
  2. Pour the dressing into the bottom of four mason jars, dividing it evenly amongst them. 
  3. Add the red onion and tomatoes to each jar, again dividing the portions evenly among 4 jars. 
  4. Add the diced bell pepper next. This is optional, but it adds healthy crunch, especially if you forego the tortilla chips. 
  5. Layer in the roasted chicken, followed by the avocado.
  6. Top each jar with a big handful of greens. I used a mix of baby spinach, kale, and swiss chard. Tortilla chips go on the vey top before you seal it!
I find that the mason jar salads last for 3-4 days in the fridge, so it's a great option to prep ahead on Sundays. Plus, your coworkers will be jealous when you pull out such a healthy and delicious lunch!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Weekend Fun

I'm taking a day off of work today, so for me, the weekend has already begun (hooray!). If it's still just a regular ol' Friday for you, GET EXCITED! The weekend is almost here!
Hamilton Pool is a swimming hole that I can't wait to visit! Image from RealtyAustin.com
I like to pack my weekends full of fun activities, because it feels a little bit more like a break than just lounging around and getting chores done. Here are some low-cost ideas for Saturday/Sunday to-dos:

  • Check out a free festival or an outdoor movie. As the weather warms up, there will me more and more festivals, concerts, and movies in the park, so keep an eye out! If you're in Austin, here's a great list of some free ideas for fun date nights around the city this weekend. 
  • Visit a Museum. Many museums offer discounted tickets or even free admission at select times of the week. Plus, if you're a Bank of America card holder, you can get free admission into a selection of Museums on the first weekend of every month through the Museums on Us program.  A museum day is a fun way to beat the heat and take in some of the culture of your local area!
  • Head to the library and pick up some new books. Maybe this isn't fun for everyone, but I LOVE books. Plus, libraries often host book talks, book signings, etc. so you can do more than just peruse the stacks. If you're in a big city like Boston, the public library is a destination
  • Read those new library books outside while you sip a glass of wine! You don't have to go anywhere to relax and unwind. If I can't read a book with a fruity drink on a remote beach somewhere, then a book on a lounge chair with a glass of wine in my backyard will suffice. 
  • Take a hike with a friend. Kill two birds with one stone: exercise and catching up with a friend you rarely see. A "hike" up Mt. Bonnell or a slightly more strenuous trek through the greenbelt is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
  • Visit a local swimming hole. If you're in Texas, you're probably looking for a way to cool off. Check out this list of Austin's Best Swimming Holes and go take a dip! Not in Austin? Look for a swimming hole or even a ritzy country club pool near you and start swimming!
  • Host an impromptu potluck. Skip a spendy dinner with friends and invite everyone over for an informal get-together. You provide the essentials (cutlery, plates, drinks, and a main dish) and let everyone else whip up one of their favorite dishes. Bonus points if you make it into a fun game night! Everyone loves a good game...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Talk or Text?


Texting has been an integral part of our personal lives, and for many, it's the go-to method of communication. It's definitely faster to type out a quick message than it is to play telephone tag and then spend hours chatting on the phone, but sometimes an old-fashioned phone call is just better. Here are some rules I try to follow:

Text When:

  • You're meeting a friend somewhere. Want to let them know that you're running late or that you've grabbed a table on the back patio of the restaurant? A quick text is probably the quickest way to get your message across.
  • You're responding to a text. If someone has texted you, it's appropriate to text back (unless they've sent you some big news that warrants a follow up phone call).
  • You're just thinking of a friend and you want to say "hi". Send a quick snapshot to of your fruity beach-side drink to you favorite coworker to let them know that you're thinking of them, or send a supportive message to a friend who's about to interview for a new job. "I'm thinking of you today- you're going to ROCK that interview!" is a supportive, quick note that probably doesn't require a long phone convo. 
Call When:
  • Your friends call you! You have to be a friend to keep your friends, and one of the ways to be a friend is to keep in touch. If someone calls you to catch up, don't try to accomplish your update via text. Your friend wants to hear your voice, so find a time when you can call back. 
  • You're in an argument. Text messages can be misread and misinterpreted. If you've had a dispute with someone, don't let it fester with short texts. Pick up the phone and work it out.
  • Someone is experiencing a big life event. If a loved one has recently died, your friend is going through a tough breakup,  etc., it's appropriate to call. Your friend may not pick up, but they'll appreciate the thought. Similarly, if your friend has a new baby or is recently engaged, call to let them dish about it! They'll likely be eager to share the news...
  • You're under a tight deadline. If you have something due or need information fast, pick up the phone and get it! Sometimes people don't see their text messages until later in the day, or they don't respond immediately. A phone call will be less exhausting than describing what you need via text and waiting around for it.
These aren't hard-and-fast rules, but think about whether or not a phone call will be a more effective (or appreciated) mode of communications before you fire off your next text!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Links I Love: New House Edition

Bedroom Inspiration from Loft Home
Everything is unpacked and life is returning to the (new) normal in our new house. Our commute to work is shorter, Brady has more space to run around, and we have neighbors! I've been trolling the web as we decorate, clean, and settle in, and here are some of the links that I LOVE:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Suit Up

Images from Pinterest
The woman in white is typically the center of attention on the wedding day, but this doesn't mean that the groom's attire has to be generic! There are so many different suit options that range from beach-y casual to black-tie formal, so ask yourself a few key questions before you start shopping:
  • How formal is the wedding? An indoor, evening event may call for a suit or a tuxedo, but you should skip the 3 piece suit if you'll be outside in the backyard. There are stylish options no matter which direction you choose to go in, but you do want the groom's attire to reflect the overall feel of the event. 
  • Is matching important? Often, the groomsmen will wear coordinating colors or even the same suit, but it's important to consider whether you'll be renting or buying the outfits. Consider allowing the groomsmen to wear suits/tuxedos that they already have (and save a little money!) or shop around for some good deals (like the Nordstrom half-yearly sale!).  I personally hate the idea of renting formalwear because the fit will never be quite right on a borrowed suit, but this may be another cost-effective option.
  • What's the color scheme? Consider how the suits will look with your overall color scheme. I don't mean that your groomsmen need to wear colored suite, but a pop of color on a tie or a pocket square will complement the flowers in the bride's bouquet and add a bit of style to a solid color ensemble. 
  • What "extras" will we have? Shirts with French cuffs require cuff links, or maybe you want everyone to have the same tie or some funky socks. Even if everyone's wearing their own suit, a piece of flair that all the groomsmen have will add some uniformity to your lineup. Plus, these little "extras" make great gifts!
We bought Neal's suit last week, and I'm almost just as excited to see him in it as I am for him to see me in my dress! He's going to be a very handsome groom!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Monday Menu: Blue Apron



I love to cook, but it's easy to cook the same things over and over again (and that's not very fun or adventurous!). Blue Apron is a meal-delivery service that will deliver all the ingredients that you need to create a few new recipes each week. We decided to try it out this week, and I'm excited to get the NEXT delivery!

Here's how it works: Each week you log into your account and choose a few dishes from the weekly menu. Blue Apron packs everything up in the perfect portion sizes and ships it straight to your door in refrigerated boxes. In our last shipment, we tried:

  • Pan roasted pork with smashed potatoes and spinach
  • Seared cod with aromatic curried rice and snow peas
  • Steamed turkey buns with quick kimchi

Although I probably could have made any of these dishes on my own, I like that Blue Apron packed up all the ingredients for me. Some of the dishes had more "uncommon" ingredients like bean paste and a special kind of Korean spice. Getting the pre-portioned amounts was a lot more cost-effective than going to the grocery store and buying the ingredients in mass quantities. 


This is also a great option for the infrequent or novice cook. If you plan to eat out frequently but want just enough for  2-3 meals at home, then Blue Apron will completely substitute your weekly grocery shopping (how convenient).  Plus, each recipe comes with illustrated, step-by-step directions, so you can whip up a 30-minute-meal with ease! 

It is important to note that they do NOT cater to food allergies/preferences aside from offering vegetarian options. You can choose options from their menu that meet your requirements and/or make substitutions on your own. 

*This post was not sponsored by Blue Apron. I simply had a great experience and couldn't wait to share it with you!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Fashion Friday: Stella & Dot Fall Preview (and a GIVEAWAY!)


Summer is just heating up, but this week Stella & Dot launched their Fall Preview collection and it is gorgeous- I couldn't help but share! I am loving the beautiful blues and geometric shapes/patterns, and the pieces are all so versatile (read: two-way earrings, a statement necklace that can be worn six different ways, and multiple delicate layering necklaces all in one).


To celebrate the launch, I'm hosting a "Mystery Hostess" trunk show. Buy your favorite piece using this link and YOU will be entered to win all the hostess rewards ($250+ in free product!). 

Any purchase, no matter how big or how small, will earn you an entry into our raffle, but for every $50 you spend you'll also earn $25 back in Dot Dollars (for MORE shopping! hooray!).  

Buy yourself something pretty to end the week and update your wardrobe, and share the link with a friend! The raffle closes on June 10th at midnight. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Recipes to Try: Lemon Icebox Pie


Gluten free pie crust is a tough one to master, but a crumbly graham cracker or cookie crust is simple to make and tastes amazing. I'm always on the lookout for recipes that take advantage of this easy-to-prepare crust, and icebox pies are the perfect thing to try this summer. It's like the casserole of desserts, and with the right ingredients an icebox pie can be delightful and sophisticated. 

What You'll Need:
1 1/2 cups crushed cookies or crackers (for the crust)
1/4 cup sugar
6 Tbsp butter, melted
Dash of salt
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp loosely packed lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 large egg yolks
 1/4 cup buttermilk

Directions:
  1. Prepare the crust by processing the crushed cookies or crackers in a food processor with the 1/4 cup of sugar and the dash of salt until finely crushed. Add the melted butter and pulse until combined.
  2. Press the crust mixture on the bottom, sides, and lip of a slightly greased pie plate. Freeze for 30 minutes to 1 hour while you prep the filling. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 
  4. Whisk together the condensed milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl. 
  5. Beat egg yolks in a medium bowl with a handheld mixer for about 5 minutes, then gradually whisk in the condensed milk mixture until combined. 
  6. Whisk the buttermilk into the filling and pour it into the prepared crust. 
  7. Bake the pie for about 25 minutes or until the filling is set around the edges. The pie will still be a bit jiggly. 
  8. Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for 1 hour, then cover it with lightly greased plastic wrap and freeze for 4 to 6 hours. 
  9. Serve the pie with sweetened whip cream- delish!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Denim Update

I pulled on my favorite jeans last weekend and Neal told me they were looking a little bit big in the backside. Obviously, it's time for an update to my denim! I love the look of boyfriend jeans on other people, but to be honest I haven't been quite sure how to wear them myself.  Pinterest is the perfect place to find a little bit of inspiration, and here's what I found:

Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest
Image Source: Pinterest
A pair of Paige Jimmy Jimmy Skinny Boyfriend jeans are on their way to me, and I'm looking forward to trying out some of these looks!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Busy In the City

Image from Scribd.com, via Pinterest
We all have busy schedules these days, but there's no reason that weeknight can't be as enjoyable as a Friday or Saturday evening. Gather some of your favorite friends for a weeknight dinner party. Keeping it casual will minimize both the prep and cleanup, and a memorably evening of conversation will make you feel like you've made the most of your week.

Table Setting
Don't go crazy trying to curate a special tablescape. Simply pull out your favorite plates and some flatware and call it a day. Make sure to have wine glasses and water glasses on the table- if your friends are like mine, the wine will be flowing!

Centerpieces
If you have time on your way home from work, pick up a bunch of whatever's seasonal. Fresh flowers instantly add an air of sophistication, and a low vase spilling over with beautiful blooms will add to your home decor even after the dinner party is done! Missing a vase? Fill a few small glasses with small blooms.

Menu
You have a couple of options here. Grab some carryout from your favorite local spot (there's no shame in outsourcing the cooking!) or pull together something simple that you can make ahead. Pasta is always a hit, and a lasagna will make your home smell incredible as it cooks.

  • Giant green salad with freshly shaved parmesan and balsamic vinegarette 
  • Homemade lasagna
  • Wine- lots of it!
  • Gelato or ice cream served with a variety of toppings (I have chocolate chips, buttey caramel sauce, homemade hot fudge, fresh fruit, and rainbow sprinkles on hand)
Music
Turn on something that will create a bit of ambiance and background, but will still allow for easy conversation. Anything from Dave Matthews to Train will work- make sure it's something YOU like!

It's hard to break up the weeknight routine, even for something fun. BUT, you eat dinner every night anyway. Make an ordinary night a celebratory occasion- you won't regret it!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Monday Menu

If you've read by blog before, you know that I love getting some of the weekday prep work done on Sundays. Preparing the ingredients for a few simple weeknight meals and packing up a bunch of lunches frees up time during the week for other types of fun like a weeknight barre class or movie with friends.

Here's what on the menu at our house this week:

Breakfasts

Lunches
My mason jar salads are all ready to go! I just used veggies, but some quinoa or garbanzo beans would make this even heartier!

Dinners
  • Grilled veggie kabobs with baked potatoes
  • Hot Italian sausage and peppers with homemade marinara sauce
  • Chicken tacos with fajita veggies and guacamole
Need a taco seasoning? Skip the packets that you buy at the grocery store and whip up this recipe at home. 
Snacks
  • Apples with almond butter
  • Cucumbers, carrots, and bell peppers with guacamole
  • Freshly toasted pecan halves and dried cherries
  • Honeydew melon (it's SO good right now!)
I didn't plan enough for EVERY meal, which gives us a little bit of flexibility to enjoy a lunch out with coworkers or dinner at a restaurant as we continue to explore our new neighborhood. What's on the menu at your house this week?